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2024 Wall of Fame Inductee -- Karen Hart Delaney

Karen Hart Delaney, a 1976 graduate of Pendleton Memorial High School, moved to Pendleton County with her parents, Earl and Elsie Hart, in 1970 and this community quickly became home. Karen’s parents instilled in her the importance of “giving your best” and a love of learning as core values that would resonate throughout her schooling and professional work.


After high school, Karen continued her education at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). In 1980 she completed her Bachelor of Arts in English and began her career in the West Clermont School District in Ohio. In 1982, she accepted a graduate fellowship at EKU and returned to complete a Master of Arts in Education and School Counseling. Over the next decade, Karen completed her Rank I in School Administration and Supervision with a concentration in counseling services.


In 1983, Karen came home to a position in the English Department of Pendleton High School.  For nearly three decades, she dedicated her work and service to the students of PHS and the school community. She taught English for eight years and sponsored multiple student organizations, then joined the Guidance Department as the Assistant School Counselor. In 1998 Karen was named Assistant Principal.  In this role, her chief responsibilities included curriculum development, instructional supervision, assessment and grant initiatives. She returned to the Guidance Department in 2004 as the department head and academic advisor to juniors and seniors.


Karen’s career is marked with many notable accomplishments. She was among the first to serve as a KTIP resource teacher mentoring interns starting their careers. She became a leader of the School-to-Work, Tech Prep and High Schools That Work initiatives which connected academic and technical coursework to elevate rigor across the curriculum. She was active with Career and Technical Education on the state level assisting other districts in these initiatives. In 2003 she received the National Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Outstanding Administrator Award, then was named 2004 Kentucky Association of Secondary School Principals’ Assistant Principal of the Year.  In addition to the many responsibilities and challenges as head counselor, Karen managed the largest local scholarship program in the state and implemented the first dual-credit college courses at PHS in 2005 then worked diligently with post-secondary partners to grow this program. These contributions to post-secondary readiness and creating a college-going culture are indeed significant hallmarks of her career.


Karen continues her fervent support of public education and the Pendleton County Schools as a retired educator. She maintains her involvement with the Pendleton County Education Foundation supporting foundation initiatives as well as in her collaboration with community partners to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the county. Karen served her community in yet another capacity when elected to the Pendleton County Board of Education in 2016 until January 2023.  A former student who became a colleague remarked: “To Mrs. Delaney I can give the greatest compliment an educator can receive. She always made decisions based on what was best for students and families.”


On a personal level, Karen is married to John Delaney.  Together they are active in the St. Francis Xavier Church Parish. They have two daughters, Jennifer (Steven Tyler) Hartzel and Elizabeth Delaney and three grandchildren, Steven Lane, Elsie, and Bradford Hartzel. Family is their greatest reward and joy.